The best lawns start with the best grass seed. We reveal our favourite seed mixes for growing your own lush green carpet Our Guide to the Best Grass Seed Brands We recommend Pennington Smart Seed as the best grass seed brand (please remember there are lots of great brands out there; this is just our opinion).
Best grass seed 2022: The best seed mixes for busy gardens and beautiful lawns
The best lawns start with the best grass seed. We reveal our favourite seed mixes for growing your own lush green carpet
If you want to create a fabulous lawn you’ve got two main options: buy turf (which is expensive) or sow grass seed (which is not). Grass seed is also widely available in more varieties, giving you the freedom to create the kind of lawn you want.
The best grass seed products are a mix of varieties, balanced to meet certain needs and thrive in particular conditions. For example, there are mixes tailored to growing quickly in the UK climate, and others formulated to create the greenest lawn in your street.
In a moment, we’ll reveal the best grass seed mixes available. First, here’s how to choose the right seeds for your garden, or football pitch, or croquet lawn, or for re-grassing those muddy patches you’ve been meaning to sort out for years.
Best grass seed: At a glance
- Best hardwearing grass seed for busy lawns: Sprogs & Dogs | £15 (1kg)
- Best fast-growing grass seed: BGW Grass Seed | £12 (1kg)
- Best all-year round grass seed: Germinal A26 So Green | £15 (500g)
- Best for overseeding and fixing patches: Groundmaster General Purpose | £10 (1kg)
- Best low-maintenance grass for gardens: Superstar Back Lawn | £22 (2kg)
How to choose the best grass seed for you
How much will I need to spend?
Good grass seed costs between £10 and £15 per kilo, and covers an average of 30 square metres (or about 50sqm if you’re reseeding an existing lawn). Coverage and price vary, so we’ve given details of both for each seed in our rundown.
Don’t get carried away and buy 5kg when you’re just planting a small front lawn. Too much seed causes overcrowding, which leads to bald patches.
Even the priciest grass seed costs significantly less than buying rolls of turf, but it does require more patience and work to create a lawn from seed than from turf.
What is grass seed made from?
That’s not a silly question, honest. All the products in our line-up are seed mixes, made up of different grass varieties that each have their pros and cons.
To see which varieties each mix contains, check the ‘Key specs’ under each bite-sized review below. We’ve listed the main ingredient first, food label-style.
Three varieties turn up most often in grass seed mixes:
Ryegrass is the most common type of grass seed. It’s coarse, versatile, hard-wearing and fast to grow. Technically speaking it’s a ‘bunch grass’, which means it’s a cool-season grass that thrives in most soil types and conditions.
Fescue is also hardy and versatile but a little finer than ryegrass, so it’s softer beneath your feet and creates a thicker look. It’s also good at growing in the shade, unlike most other grass varieties. Its main downside is that it needs warm soil to germinate, so it won’t grow if sown in cooler months.
Bentgrass is a fine ornamental grass that can be mown very short for a beautiful velvety lawn. It’s rather high-maintenance, so it’s usually mixed with fescue to make the lawn harder-wearing and weed-resistant. Many all-purpose grass seed mixes include a dash of bentgrass to soften the overall look of your lawn.
What grass seed mix is best for me and my garden?
That mainly depends on how you use your lawn and the amount of work you want to put in.
Football pitch vs posh lawn: If your lawn needs to withstand endless close encounters with kids, pets and BBQ guests, then go for a predominantly ryegrass mix. But if you want a smooth ornamental lawn, avoid ryegrass completely and go for bentgrass, with some fescue in the mix to help it survive underfoot.
Sun vs shade: Most types of grass prefer full sun, but fescue is a shade specialist (and will also grow in sunny spots). A ryegrass/fescue mix is the most reliable choice if your garden has shady bits.
Mowing height: Fine ornamental grass can and should be mowed quite close – as low as 1cm. Coarse ryegrass performs better if you let it grow a little more – up to 4cm. That said, any type of newly-sown grass should be left to grow up to around 7cm before you cut it for the first time.
Weeds: Coarse grass is good at competing with weeds, but fine grass isn’t. So, if you have a soft bentgrass lawn you’ll have to work harder to keep weeds at bay.
Soil type: Most UK soil is loam, sand and/or clay. Loam is best for grass because it drains better than clay but holds moisture better than sand. Fescue grasses fare OK in clay-heavy soil, while finer grasses can thrive in sandy soil. To check what type of soil you’ve got, do the jam jar trick.
READ NEXT: Best lawnmower
The best grass seed to buy
1. Sprogs & Dogs: The best hardwearing grass seed for busy lawns
Price: £15 for 1kg | Buy now from Amazon
This mix of dwarf ryegrass and creeping red fescue has been developed over a decade by Lawn UK to create a thick, “sports strength” turf for lawns that regularly double as football pitches, dog playgrounds and shortcuts to the garage.
The seeds are fairly quick to germinate, especially if you plant them in spring or autumn, with users reporting a “lush green lawn” eight weeks after planting. Long-term user reviews are ecstatic, reporting that the grass grows back well after snowy winters and summer heatwaves. It’s low-maintenance and thrives between mowing.
For one of the cheapest seed mixes in our rundown, Sprogs & Dogs is a clear all-round winner. The only downside is that birds love it, so invest in some netting while your lawn takes root.
Key specs – Seed types: Dwarf ryegrass, creeping red fescue; When to sow: Spring or autumn; Mowing height: Up to 4cm; 1kg covers: Around 30m ²
Sprogs & Dogs Ultra Hardwearing Grass Seed by Lawn UK – Ultimate Grass Seed for Family lawns, Super Durable, Tough Lawn Seed Mixture – Fast Growing (1kg)
2. GBW Grass Seed: The best fast-growing grass seed
Price: £12 for 1kg | Buy now from Amazon
A perennial bestseller in Amazon’s Garden & Outdoors category, this DEFRA-certified grass mixture is designed to grow fast in the UK climate.
We gave these seeds a try and found they worked best after being soaked overnight, then planted in holes in well-prepared ground rather than being chucked on top. We saw shoots within three days of planting in early September. Longer-term users report seeing a full lawn within a month and receiving excellent customer service.
Impressively, GBW emailed us sowing and growing instructions before our seed bag arrived, and we didn’t have to avail ourselves of its promise of a full refund if we weren’t happy.
Key specs – Seed types: Dwarf ryegrass, creeping red fescue, bentgrass; When to sow: Spring/autumn; Mowing height: 1.2cm; 1kg covers: 35m ² (new lawn), 55m ² (existing lawn)
1kg Grass Seed Covers up to 55 m2 (590 ft2) New Lawns – Premium Quality Seed – Fast Growing – Hard Wearing Lawn Seed – Tailored to UK Climate – Trademark Registered – GBW Grass Seed – 100% Refund
3. Germinal A26 So Green: The best grass seed for a green lawn all year round
Price: £15 for 500g | Buy now from Germinal
Usually, you have to choose between a great-looking lawn and a hard-wearing one, but this unique blend is tough and striking.
The secret is in the colour. Germinal is so confident about the world-beating hue of its So Green grass, which uses specially-cultivated Abernile ryegrass, that it planted the stuff on the side of a house for its product photo (above). Yep, that sure is green. And it promises to stay green all year round.
According to long-term users it really does work, maintaining a dark green colour even during droughts. It’s pricey (although still cheaper than buying turf), but it is a reliable grass that gardeners say is particularly good at resisting disease.
Key specs – Seed types: Abernile perennial ryegrass, fescue, bentgrass; When to sow: Spring/autumn; Mowing height: Optimum 2.5cm; 500g covers: 14m ²
4. The Grass People Steadfast Ultra Shade: The best grass seed for shaded areas
Price: £47 for 2kg | Buy now from The Grass People
Steadfast Ultra Shade is one of The Grass People’s more expensive mixes, at £23 per kilo, but it really does reach the parts other grass seeds can’t.
It contains unusual grass varieties cultivated for areas that never get direct sun, such as under trees or below fences in built-up areas. Ingredients include smooth-stalked meadowgrass (‘poa pratensis’), a deep-rooted grass that’s great at surviving drought and cold, and a super-strong variety of bluegrass (‘poa supina’) that thrives in shade. If this stuff doesn’t grow under your tree, nothing will.
The main downsides are that it’s slow to establish, and the ryegrass-free mix requires warmer temperatures to germinate. Sow it in spring and you should see a healthy growth in early summer.
Key specs – Seed types: Smooth-stalked meadowgrass, chewings fescue, supina bluegrass; When to sow: May-September; Mowing height: Around 2cm; 1kg covers: 20m ²
The Grass People SUPER STEADFAST: Ultra Shade 2kg – Grass Seed, Lawn Seed, For Shaded Gardens with No Light, Heavily Shaded Lawns with Overhanging Trees, Shrubbery, Hedges, Gable Walls, Brilliant for Built Up Areas
5. GroundMaster General Purpose: The best grass seed for overseeding and fixing patches
Price: £10 for 1kg | Buy now from Amazon
This ryegrass-fescue seed mix has been cultivated to germinate in difficult weather or terrain conditions, as long as you water it every night. You won’t need to do much ground preparation: just sprinkle it on your lawn’s patches and cover with netting (it’s very tasty, according to our local feathered friends).
Some users report slow germination (“don’t panic, it took a good month”) but this mix creates a lovely dark green grass if you’re patient. The main drawback is the dark green may contrast with your existing lawn if you’re patching.
Key specs – Seed types: Perennial ryegrass, creeping red fescue; When to sow: Year round but ideally during warm humid weather; Mowing height: Up to 4cm; 1kg covers: 30m ²
GroundMaster General Purpose Lawn Garden Grass Seed (1KG)
6. The Grass People Superstar Back Lawn: Great low-maintenance grass for gardens
Price: £22 for 2kg | Buy now from The Grass People
This great value all-purpose seed mix is similar to Sprogs & Dogs but in our experience was a little slower to germinate. Plant the seeds in humid weather in April for best results.
With patience you’ll get a lovely low-maintenance lawn that’s happy to grow to 4cm or more before you need to get the mower out. And if you need proof that it’s hard-wearing enough to withstand lots of heavy trampling, it’s undergone extensive testing by third-party researchers including the Sports Turf Research Institute.
Key specs – Seed types: Perennial ryegrass; creeping red fescue; When to sow: Wet humid weather, ideally April; Mowing height: Up to 4cm; 1kg covers: 20m ²
The Grass People Superstar: Back Lawn 10kg Grass Seed Lawn Seed Perfect for Families, Luxury Lawn, Quality Lawn, Hard Wearing and Attractive Grass Lawn
7. Lawnsmith Ornamental Grass Seed: The best grass seed for a perfect-looking lawn
Price: £25 for 2kg | Buy now from Lawnsmith
There’s no ryegrass in this seed mix, just bentgrass and a couple of fescue varieties. The result is a beautifully fine, dense lawn that looks like a glorious green carpet, although it needs regular close mowing to look its best. And perhaps a ‘Keep off the grass’ sign or three.
The seeds germinate quickly, with initial shoots appearing in days, but growth rate is slow and you’ll need to be very vigilant about weeds. As with most fine grasses, Lawnsmith’s ornamental mix thrives best in sandy (free-draining) acidic soil.
Key specs – Contains grass types: Chewings fescue, red fescue, bentgrass; When to sow: Spring/autumn; Mowing height: 1-2cm; 1kg covers: 20m ²
Our Guide to the Best Grass Seed Brands
We recommend Pennington Smart Seed as the best grass seed brand (please remember there are lots of great brands out there; this is just our opinion). Customers love these Pennington grass seed blends because they contain the best seeds for growing in a variety of conditions. Also, Pennington Smart Seed targets specific regions, like the Northeast and the Midwest, to create blends perfect for growing in those regions’ conditions. We love Pennington, but there are other fantastic options; check out our other picks below.
Our Top 5 Best Grass Seed Brand Picks
Where Does Grass Seed Come From?
You can readily buy grass seed from your local garden supply center, but where does the grass seed come from? It is important to understand how grass seed forms, and how it’s harvested, to learn how the biggest grass seed companies stay in business by growing and packaging grass seeds to create beautiful lawns.
It seems to be a mystery, since we usually don’t see any seeds in our grass blades. That’s because we regularly mow our lawns. When we do this, we make our lawns look maintained and encourage spread. However, if you regularly mow your lawn, you won’t give your grass an opportunity to grow seeds.
Grass will seed itself if you let it grow long enough (source). Eventually, grass will grow flowers that contain grass seeds. Some grasses contain male and female reproductive organs within each flower, whereas others contain them in separate flowers. Once the flowers are pollinated, grass seeds form.
You can harvest grass seeds from your own grass, but it can be time consuming. Large farms use harvesters, like combines, to harvest large amounts of grass seeds at a time. The video above shows a combine in action as it harvests grass seeds:
What Makes Some Grass Seed Better Than Others?
Just like most things in life, not all grass seed is created equal. Purchasing grass seed from a trusted company, rather than a random vendor, can make the difference between a beautiful, green lawn, and a lawn that just won’t grow.
Trusted brands, like those recommended in this guide, put time and effort into growing the best grass seeds for a variety of climates, soil types, and weather conditions. These are the brands that work to create hybrid versions of your favorite grass varieties for better drought resistance, shade tolerance, and other difficult growing conditions.
Look at the ingredients on the bag before you purchase grass seeds. This will tell you the type of seeds, the percentage of weed seeds, the expected germination rate, and any added fillers. Trustworthy seed companies will have no problem being transparent about their grass seed ingredients.
Common Types of Grass Seed
According to GreenView, most companies package grass seed in the following categories:
- Fast Grow Mix
- Sun and Shade Mix
- High-Traffic Mix
- Dense Shade Mix
Doing so helps consumers choose the best type of grass seed that will work for their soil, weather, and sunlight conditions.
To choose the best one for you, learn as much about your region’s climate and soil conditions before you purchase seeds. Grasses come in both warm-season and cool-season varieties. If you live in an area with long, hot summers, warm-season grasses will do better. However, areas with long, colder winters will prefer cool-season grasses.
How Do Grass Seed Mixes Compare to Single Varieties?
Some of the best grass seed brands sell both single varieties of grass seed and grass seed mixes. Is there much of a difference? What type is better?
The answer is yes, for most lawns, there is a difference, and grass seed mixes tend to edge out single varieties.
Although both warm and cool-season grasses can be made into a grass seed mix, also called a blend, it’s typically cool-season grasses that you’ll find as a mix. This is because cool-season grasses can be a bit more difficult to grow, and therefore, benefit from a blended variety of seeds to increase chances of germination (source).
If you have a lawn with different growing conditions, such as plenty of sun in some areas but dense shade in others, a grass seed mix will give you the best chance for a full lawn. The varieties in the mix that grow well in sun will thrive there, whereas the other varieties that fare well in the shade will take over in shaded areas.
A grass seed mix is also a good choice if you don’t have optimal soil conditions and aren’t skilled in creating optimal soil conditions. Some grass seed varieties, like Bermuda grass, grow well in a wide range of conditions. Choosing a mix of common and hybrid Bermuda grass seeds will, in this example, give you the best chance of germination in unique soil types.
How to Have Success with Planting Grass Seed
Your grass seed will only be successful if you use proper planting and care procedures. It’s important to test and prepare your soil before planting any grass seed for the best chance at germination and a beautiful, full lawn.
Try to prepare your soil before early fall, as this is typically the best time to plant grass seed. You want to make sure the weather is still warm enough to help your seeds germinate, but cool and rainy enough to keep seeds from drying out before they germinate (source).
Preparing to Plant
If you have a large area where you’re planting grass, consider using a tiller over the area. This will loosen up your soil, giving your seeds room to breathe, spread, and get nutrients. Remove any rocks, weeds, and debris from where you’ll be planting.
Test your soil’s pH, or submit a soil sample for professional testing. You can then amend the soil with any nutrients it may need to bring it to the proper pH.
Rake over your tilled soil to create a smooth, even surface for your grass seeds to grow. Thoroughly moisten the soil with water so that it’s moist several inches below the surface.
Caring for Grass Seed
Once you plant your grass seed, take special notice of the specific instructions for your variety. Some grass needs more water than other grasses, some may need overseeding to fill in bare spots, and some may need to be mowed more frequently to encourage spread.
Keep your lawn looking its best by pulling weeds and keeping the soil moist. Consider creating a footpath through heavy traffic areas to keep traffic off your lawn as much as possible.
Our Recommendation: Pennington Smart Seed
Our choice for best grass seed brand is Pennington Smart Seed, which dominates in customer reviews because of its drought-resistant, water-conserving abilities.
Pennington Smart Seed is available in a number of different mixes, like Tall Fescue, Dense Shade, and Sun and Shade Mix. The brand even has mixes available for specific regions and states, such as Northeast Mix and Pennsylvania Mix. You’re sure to find the perfect grass seed blend for your region with this brand.
To create these mixes, Pennington blends its best seeds together to create optimal blends for virtually all growing conditions. The brand also guarantees that its mixes contain no fillers and extra seeds, for a higher chance of germination than other brands.
Additionally, you’ll find that these grasses will save you water, as they’re blended to need less water than other types of grass. Even if your area has little rainfall, or you’re concerned about the cost of watering a lawn, you can still grow a beautiful lawn with Pennington Smart Seed mixes.